Monthly Archives: April 2012

Big Tuna “Floating” to the App Store

Big Tuna Perdido Key, FL – On its flagship project, Big Tuna Apps LLC announced that their Float Plan app is now available for the iPhone. Inshore, offshore, or near shore, the Float Plan app is an easy add-on to your safety gear. The Float Plan app takes a traditional, extremely useful concept, into quick and easy steps. By providing the pedigree info of your boating adventure to your loved ones, the Float Plan app will give them more peace of mind and also help rescuers obtain your party’s location if an unsightly event occurs.

– File a float plan with your loved ones in less than 60 seconds
– Save up to 5 boats in your fleet
– Save up to 5 trips per boat
– Single tap on integrated map sets your launch / destination GPS coordinates
– Email Boat, Captain, Passenger, and Trip Info to your trusted contacts
– Integrates with phone’s contacts / address book
– Practice Safe / Responsible boating

Power boat, sailboat, large vessel, or paddle boat, the Float Plan app makes a perfect addition to everyone’s safety gear.

Pricing & Availability:
For a limited time only, the Float Plan app will be offered at an introductory price of $0.99 USD and available worldwide exclusively through Apple’s App Store in the Sports & Navigation categories.

Links: /
Social: / @bigtunaapps on Twitter

Corporate Summary: With a background in technology and a passion for boating, Perdido Key, FL based Big Tuna Apps LLC was created to help those worlds collide. The Float Plan app is the flagship app for Big Tuna Apps with more maritime infused apps on the way. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod, and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and / or other countries.

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Coast Guard to Enforce Security Zones for Fleet Week 2012

MIAMI — The Coast Guard is scheduled to enforce security zones during Fleet Week 2012, held at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., through next Monday.

Coast Guard crews are also scheduled to enforce a safety zone prohibiting vessels of 500 gross tons or larger from entering or departing Port Everglades immediately following the Fort Lauderdale Air Show on Saturday and Sunday.

The safety zone will be in place from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. to help facilitate orderly and safe transit for the smaller recreational traffic anticipated to be transiting through the waterway into Port Everglades immediately following the show both days.

Recreational boaters are requested to strongly consider transiting into the port during this time window, observing safe speed and all other rules of road. At 5:30 p.m. each day the waterway will be reopened to large vessel traffic.

The Coast Guard would like to remind boaters that for several hours after opening of the channel, at 5:30 p.m., large commercial traffic will occupy the main channel and restrict navigation of recreational boaters wishing to transit into or out of Port Everglades.

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New FREE App From SeaTow

Now you can get your weather app, your tide app, and your GPS app all in one place! Not to mention being able to connect to Sea Tow’s 24-Hour Dispatch Center for help. Unlike most boating apps out there, each feature itself has much more information and gives you much more detail. Yet it’s simple to use and free!

Check out your exact location on the map… then email it to a friend. Use the “Follow Me” Function to automatically find the tide for where you are and even get a high tide countdown. Try out the Night Mode feature that helps keep your vision sharp in the dark.  Plan your trip with detailed tide and weather info 7 days in advance, and in up to 7 different locations. The new Sea Tow App has everything you want and everything you need.

On-Water Services

Know The Tides

Get tide forecasts, moon phases, & next tide countdown in both analogue and graph format. In up to eight locations. And up to seven days in advance. Activate the “Follow Me” feature in your tides settings pane to continuously find the nearest tide station.

Commercial Services

Check the forecast

Detailed weather report available including wind/gust speed & direction. Plus water temp, wave height, visibility, barometric pressure trend and sunrise/sunset times. With forecasts of up to seven days. In up to seven different locations. And weather alerts in your area.

Spill and Environmental Clean-up

Get your bearings

Direction and location are no longer an issue. With the compass and speedometer, get your heading, lat/long, speed over ground and course over ground. Pinpoint your precise location on a map, take a photo, then share it with a friend. Designed for inland and near coastal use, it also works offshore with many GPS-enabled phones.

Catastrophe Response

Help is on the way.

Have peace of mind knowing you can contact Sea Tow through this App in addition to your VHF Radio. No matter what screen you’re on, you can contact Sea Tow’s 24 Hour Dispatch Center. Captains are standing by, ready to help. We know your exact location, even when you don’t.

Catastrophe Response

Keep your night vision sharp.

The Sea Tow App is the first of its kind to provide different graphic displays for night and day so it won’t disrupt your night vision. Adjust your Sea Tow App from Day to Night mode in just one swipe.

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aCappella’s Helm – Antennas

Thanks to our friends at we are republishing this post. It isn’t often that I run across something I’ve never before heard of but this is a great tip for anyone who is fighting with deteriorating antennas.

Every person walking down the dock had the same reaction, “I didn’t know you could do that!” So we thought it would be good to pass along one of our latest discoveries.

Many boats like ours have white, fiberglass antennas. Over time the fiberglass starts to come out causing uncomfortable handling as the microscopic shards penetrate the skin. This is especially bad at the top where the antennas bend in the wind causing the paint to flake off over the years.

As part of our total electronics refit this winter, we decided it was time to replace our sad looking antennas. Fortunately, the topic came up when we were meeting with the owners of Lambs Yacht Center. Downing asked a key question: “Are the antennas still working?” Well, yes, in fact they were performing as perfectly as the day we first keyed the mic’s some 9+ years ago. “Then why not just paint them?” he asked. We responded, “You can do that?”

We did some research and discovered that even on Shakespeare’s website they give advice about painting the antennas:

This would save a lot of money and avoid the hassle of running cables through the bases of the arch. We honestly had no idea this could even be done.

We purchased a quart of Easypoxy white from Defender (think Defender first!) for about $30. The antennas were lowered, disassembled into sections, and hung in reachable areas around the upper deck. After some cleaning and light sanding, 2 coats of paint were applied while we were at Ortega Landing. To complete the job, another light sanding should be done and a final coat should be applied – we’ll finish that when we get to the Chesapeake in about a month.

We found that Easypoxy went on better with a normal brush than a foam one. The brush strokes seem to magically fill in and produce a nice, glossy finish. It all cleans up easily with mineral spirits.

Replacing the 16 foot VHF antenna and 22 foot SSB antenna would have cost around $800. It would have taken about 3-4 hours of effort to complete. Instead, the cost of painting them was about $35 and an easier 3-4 hours of effort (not one curse word).

The antennas have now been in their new painted state for about a month. The new radios work great and the antennas are shiny and white and perfect. This is a great little job that’s easy to do and makes for a nice spring project.

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VDGIF Reminds Boaters of Safety Education Requirements

Officials of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) are reminding boaters of the state’s boating safety education requirements. The General Assembly enacted the law in 2007 and it’s being phased in over several years.

  • All PWC operators, regardless of age, and motorboat operators age 30 or younger must meet the requirements by July 1, 2012.
  • Motorboat operators age 40 or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2013.
  • By July 1, 2014, motorboat operators age 45 or younger must meet the requirements by July 1, 2014, while motorboat operators age 50 or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2015.
  • By July 1, 2016, all motorboat operators, regardless of age, must meet the requirements.

To take a Virginia approved boating safety course and get your official Virginia Boating Safety Certificate, go to

Anyone shall considered to be in compliance with the requirements if they meet one or more of the following provisions:

  1. Completes and passes a boating safety education course that is approved by NASBLA and accepted by the department.
  2. Passes an equivalency exam.
  3. Possesses a valid license to operate a vessel to maritime personnel by the United States Coast Guard or a marine certificate issued by the Canadian government or possesses a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator’s card.
  4. Possesses a temporary operator’s certificate.
  5. Possesses a rental or lease agreement from a motorboat rental or leasing business which lists the person as the authorized operator of the motorboat and he/she also has completed the dockside safety check list.
  6. Operates the motor boat under on-board direct supervision of a person who meets the compliance requirement. Is a non-resident, is temporarily using the waters of Virginia for a period not to exceed 90 days and meets any applicable boating safety education requirements of the state of residency or possesses a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator’s card.
  7. Has assumed operation of the motorboat due to the illness or physical impairment of the initial operator and is returning the motorboat to shore in order to provide assistance or care for the operator.
  8. Is registered as a commercial fisherman pursuant to the Virginia laws or is under the on-board direct supervision of the commercial fisherman while operating the commercial fisherman’s boat.

Additional information on the boating education requirements can be found on line at

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Update Navigational Charts This Spring

As boaters face upcoming boating season, industry organization stresses need for recreational boaters to carry accurate navigational tools.

The Alliance for Safe Navigation, whose mission is to raise awareness about the importance of up-to-date navigational information, today released a list of resources recreational boaters should turn to as part of their spring commissioning. The list stresses the importance of having accurate navigational tools onboard and reminds the boating public that getting chart updates is critical and a very real component of boating safety.

“Just as people need to ready their boats for the upcoming boating season, they need to ensure that their navigational tools are ready,” says Robert Sweet, recent national educational officer for the United States Power Squadrons. “Using accurate charts and keeping them updated is a simple, affordable step to take to prepare for the boating season and ensure safety on the water.”

The alliance points to its annual survey as evidence of the fact that boaters do get themselves into trouble. Its 2011 survey found that over 25 percent of respondents experienced a grounding within the last five years, with some damage as high as $10,000.

One proactive measure boaters can take is to carry accurate and up-to-date navigational tools. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) issues Local Notice to Mariners (LNMs) that contain changes to current charts that are necessary due to obstructions, shifting shoals, changes in aids, etc. Most electronic navigation systems in use today offer easy and inexpensive updates that are an essential part of the annual “electronics tune-up.” Yet according to the alliance’s survey, boaters tend not to update their electronic charts or track these changes: 70 percent of respondents said they were either aware of LNMs and didn’t obtain them or they were not aware of LNMs at all.

The alliance also encourages boaters to take a boating safety course as part of spring commissioning. If you want to learn Basic Coastal Navigation and How to Use a Chart check out this course.

To see the latest USCG Notice to Mariners for your location, visit Notice to Mariners. For more information or to find out how many changes have been made to your charts, go to

About the Alliance for Safe Navigation

The Alliance for Safe Navigation ( consists of industry leaders that all share a commitment to boating safety. The goal of the alliance is to raise the boating community’s understanding of, and appreciation for, up-to-date navigational information. The alliance encourages mariners to recognize the high number of changes made to their charts and to keep their electronic and paper charts accurate, which is inexpensive and easy. Sponsored by NOAA, the alliance is made up of BoatU.S., Jeppesen, OceanGrafix, the Sea Tow Foundation, and the United States Power Squadrons.

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What Improvements Have Been Made As A Result of the Titanic Disaster?

Last Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  Since that tragedy, there have been significant improvements in boating safety.  Our friends at BoatUS explain below. A sad bit of news has been recently reported and that is that the majority of young people didn’t even realize it was a real event. They thought it was just a movie.

ALEXANDRIA, Va.– As the world solemnly marks the April 15th centennial of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, boaters and mariners alike can appreciate the vast improvements in maritime safety that were a result of the tragic sinking. In 1914, two years after Titanic’s loss of 1,503 lives, maritime nations gathered in London, adopted the International Convention of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention) and put in place a series of measures learned directly from the tragedy. Do any of those lessons learned relate to today’s recreational boater or angler? BoatUS set to find out.

Slow down: The commission that investigated the sinking found that excessive speed combined with the prevalence of ice flows was a major factor in the disaster. Do you slow down when boating at night, in foggy weather or when in unfamiliar waters? Any time you’re out on the water and something doesn’t “feel right,” slowing down is your best first move, giving you critical time to react.

Call for help: The radio that the Titanic used to send out the SOS had a limited range of only 200 miles and the airwaves were “crackling,” leading rescuers to misinterpret her position. Also, sadly, the vessel closest to her, the Californian, had shut down her radio for the night. Today’s US Coast Guard Rescue 21 system now covers over 40,000 miles of US coastline and some major rivers, taking the “search” out of search and rescue 24/7 by providing accurate location information with the simple push of one button – but only if your boat has a DSC VHF radio and it is properly connected to your GPS/chartplotter. Unfortunately, today the USCG reports that most DSC VHF radios are not connected to a GPS/chartplotter. If you travel offshore or boat alone, an EPIRB or personal locator beacon can also speed your rescue. On larger bodies of water a cell phone should only be considered a back-up emergency communications device, and always have your VHF on and tuned to channel 16.

Give a safety briefing to guests before you leave the dock: Regrettably, no lifeboat drills were held aboard the Titanic, the crew lacked training in their operation, and there was no public address system. Today, before they head out, recreational boaters and anglers can simply share with guests the location of the safety equipment and how to use gear such as the VHF radio, distress flares, fire extinguisher, or inflatable life jackets.

Have a life jacket for everyone aboard – that fits. The Titanic did not have enough critical safety gear, such as lifeboats, for all her passengers. Do you have enough correctly sized life jackets for everyone aboard and are they readily accessible? A child in an adult size life jacket could easily slip out simply by raising their hands above their head.

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The GPS Built JUST for Sailing with Bluetooth Wind Monitoring

One of the problems of using GPS chartplotters on a sailboat is that it is extremely difficult to calculate accurate arrival times given the amount of tacking often involved. Now there’s a purpose-built Sailing GPS that not only accounts for the tacking that sailboats do, but can can tell you the optimal tacking angles and your Tacking Time to Destination (TTD).


The Sailing GPS

Standard GPS chartplotters do not account for the fact that sailboats tack back and forth, so it makes sense that if they don’t know your tacking distances, how can they calculate your Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) correctly? The Sailing GPS solves this problem. It displays exactly how far each tack is, how long it will take to sail each tack, and the optimal tacks to arrive earliest. Pretty amazing.

You can also use Google Maps to easily mark waypoints, connecting via Bluetooth with the Sailing GPS, which is much easier than manually entering long strings of numbers for the latitude/longitude of multiple waypoints.

The Sailing GPS can even learn the unique “polar plots” for your individual vessel.

This is not just a generic polar plot for all sailboats of a certain type, or estimates from a simulation – the Sailing GPS learns your unique vessel’s actual performance on all different points of sail.

 It can then calculate your optimal tacking routes and Tacking Time to Destination (TTD). Later, you can transfer the polar plot data via Bluetooth to a PC, if you want to see your boat’s unique speed profile across wind angles and wind speeds.

SailTimer Inc., the manufacturer of The Sailing GPS, received final patent approval in March of this year for its pioneering R&D. “This technology is a big step forward for sailors” said Dr. Craig Summers, the President of SailTimer Inc.:

“People assume that since GPS satellites can pinpoint our location on the Earth, everything shown on a GPS chartplotter must be very accurate”, said Dr. Craig Summers, the President of SailTimer, “but if you head upwind on a tack, standard GPS units view your tack as cross-track ‘error’.”

 “They also don’t account for tacking distances in your ETA, and even if your speed remains constant VMG decreases all by itself the longer you stay on the tack. In the digital age, sailors need a GPS that displays simple, safe, correct information.”

The new patent, titled ‘Navigational Planning and Display Method for the Sailor’s Dilemma When Heading Upwind’, was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office this year, and originally filed in 2006.


The navigation functions in The Sailing GPS include support for the new wireless, solar-powered SailTimer Wind Vane which will be available this (Northern Hemisphere) summer, offering the ability to continuously update your optimal tacks with real-time wind data via Bluetooth.

The Sailing GPS comes with a free waterproof DryPak soft bag with tie-downs.

Unlike smartphones and tablets, the Sailing GPS is just as easy to see in direct sunlight, and with polarized sunglasses on.

The screen of the Sailing GPS is protected by Lexan, which is very strong and won’t break if it’s dropped, and … it floats.

The polycarbonate Sailing GPS case is scratch- and UV-resistant, small enough for a coat pocket, and durable enough to remain unharmed with a bit of rough treatment, which is much easier than trying to protect and view an iPad in the cockpit (and the ETA won’t go blank every time you tack).

The Sailing GPS displays your tacking angles in a diagram and in degrees for each heading, but is not intended to replace a chartplotter. Nevertheless, even fully-equipped cruising yachts will not have the features provided by The Sailing GPS, including the quick and easy display of your optimal tacks and Tacking Time to Destination (TTD).

The Sailing GPS costs US$399 and can be purchased online.

Courtesy: gizmag Author Mike Hanlon


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Coast Guard Responds To Capsized Boat in Biscayne Bay, FL

I have been teaching boating and boating safety since 1980 and I still can’t get over the fact that there are still many boaters that don’t have any training and apparently no common sense. Below is a story I ran across that proves it.

7th Coast Guard District NewsMIAMI — Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla., Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Tow boat U.S. rescued 10 persons in the water from their capsized vessel 250 yards off of the Sea Isle Marina, Miami last Saturday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Miami received a report of 10 persons in the water clinging to a capsized 14-foot pleasure craft, approximately 250 yards off of Sea Isle Marina, at 7:58 p.m.  last Saturday.

A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla., 45-foot Response Boat-Medium (RBM) boatcrew launched to search the nearby area along with, FWC and Tow Boat U.S. crews.

The Coast Guard RBM crew located the capsized vessel at 8:10 p.m. The RBM crew recovered four adults and three children and Tow Boat U.S. recovered one adult and two children from the water. All 10 persons in the water were safely transported to awaiting EMS crews on shore. Only minor medical concerns were reported.

Commercial salvage surfaced the vessel and towed it to safely to the marina.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to always file a float plan with a friend or family member, have a VHF-FM radio and electronic indicating radio beacon on board, remain vigilant and observe safety and security zones while on the water. An electronic float plan can be filed at the following website:

Ten people in a 14 feet boat? Give me a break.
Did they just ignore the Capacity Plate?

Boat builders must comply with Federal law by putting a Capacity Plate in sight of the helm (steering area) on motorized monohull boats less than 20 feet in length.

This plate displays three important items:

  • the maximum weight of persons on board in pounds,
  • the maximum carrying weight of the boat in pounds and
  • the maximum horsepower recommended for the boat.

Capacity plate showing maximum horsepower and pounds

U.S. Coast Guard accident statistics show that capsizing and falls overboard due to improperly loaded or overloaded boats are the most reported types of fatal accidents and account for over half of all boating fatalities.

Special care and attention is especially needed when loading small boats under 16 feet in length.

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Coast Guard Sinks Ghost Ship

Source: Daily Boater

After the Tsunami in Japan over a year ago, the USCG has been monitoring a 164 foot fishing vessel that has been drifting across the Pacific Ocean.

 Set Adrift
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Japanese fishing vessel RYOU-UN MARU was sighted by the Canadian coast guard more than a week ago in Canadian waters. The vessel drifted into U.S. waters last Saturday near Southeast Alaska. The fishing vessel has been drifting unmanned at sea, presumably since the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami which occurred in March of 2011.

Ghost Ship Is A Potential Threat
Earlier this week, the Coast Guard was still assessing the situation, but you could see where it was going. “The unlit and unmanned vessel, which was originally being monitored by Canadian authorities, is now drifting through high traffic shipping lanes in U.S. waters and has become a potential threat to mariners,” said Capt. Daniel Travers, D17 chief of incident management. “We are tracking the vessel and working with federal, state and local agencies to ensure the safety of the maritime transportation system and the marine environment.”

Eliminating The Threat
By Thursday, after another vessel was far enough away from the scene, the Coast Guard began its action to eliminate the threat. The Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa crew fired explosive ammunition at the Ryou-Un Maru 180 miles west of the Southeast Alaskan coast.

In the picture below, the adrift Japanese fishing vessel shows significant signs of damage.

The derelict fishing vessel sank in 6,000 feet of water.

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